Moxie is a distinctly different soft drink that was once more popular than Coca-Cola, or Pepsi. Now, it’s an iconic regional soft drink with a cult-like fan base and a festival in its honor.
For the uninitiated, the Moxie Festival occurs the second weekend in July, just like it has been now for the past 30 years. The place is Lisbon Falls, the town where I grew up and still live across the Androscoggin River from.
Moxie is a familiar product and has been for me since I was a small tyke. Like many Mainers that move away, I went through a period when Moxie fell off my radar. Moving back to the state in the late 1980s, I’m sure I did what many expats do when they return to their beloved home state—they stop at some store, see the iconic Moxie label and remember something special—most likely from their youth—and quaff a cold gentian root-laced Moxie for the first time in years.
After being back and transplanting roots, I got involved with the group of volunteers that make up the committee that puts on the festival each year. This was 2004, right around the time that I was beginning what would become my first book, about town team baseball in Maine.
Those two years of festival involvement, helping with PR and marketing, provided a sort of Moxie “immersion” that led to my second book being about Moxie, of course. The success of that book led to having a national publisher come calling and asking me if I’d like to do a Moxie book with them. Well of course!
The funny thing for me, having lived Moxie for almost a decade, is how little most people know about Moxie and the logistics of Moxie; the history, the festival, the history of the festival, some of the local characters, etc. It’s been fun sharing that with others, including those in my family.
My second book about Moxie is still selling and in fact, I have some autographed copies available for anyone that wants to drop me a line and I’ll be sure to get them out to you. I know sometimes people have had trouble getting copies, and for some reason, they like my John Hancock on them. As Moxie season heats up, I even have an assortment of speaking dates on my docket in July.
I’m not involved with the festival, at least not on the planning side. That’s now the domain of my sister, Julie-Ann. She’s become the Moxie evangelist and is in charge of this year’s Moxie Recipe Contest. Julie-Ann’s brought some new life to this aspect of the festival. I’m still operating on the periphery of Moxie this year, however. I’ll be one of the celebrity judges on Friday night at Chummy’s as a group of us (including The Yankee Chef) will be sampling a variety of Moxie concoctions and recipes. Saturday, I’m thinking seriously about doing the Moxie 5K race on Saturday morning, something I’ve never participated in. Given that this is my year of fitness, it makes sense to run, hit the parade, and maybe chug a cold Moxie and catch up with old friends.
This is all part and parcel of what for me makes it official; it is now Moxie Season!